The Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner said yesterday that, "Job creators in America are essentially on strike." Boehner is right about that. The people who create jobs aren't creating jobs out of fear. However, Boehner gets everything else wrong. He's wrong about who the job creators are and he's wrong about what is making them scared.
First of all, let's get something straight. Businesses and wealthy individuals don't create jobs just by virtue of having a lot of income. Give a corporation an extra million dollars and it'll say "thank you very much" and then hand it back out in dividends or stock buy-backs. It isn't going to use that money to hire workers unless it thinks it can make money off of those workers. If they just hired workers for no other reason than they had the money, they wouldn't be very good at business, now would they?
So who are the job creators? You are. The American consumer is. Every time you go to the store and buy something, you are helping to create a job. You're supporting the salary of the people who work at the store, you're supporting the truck driver or train conductor that brought it to the store, and you're supporting the factory worker who made the item(assuming it wasn't made in China, of course). The store owner and factory owner didn't "create" those jobs, you did. When you walked into that store and declared that you had a need and was willing to pay money for it, you gave someone a job for the day. When several of us do that, we give some person a job for a year. When a corporation hires a worker, they hire that person to fill the needs of a consumer. The corporation doesn't create the job, they recognize that a job is open via consumer demand and try to fill it. If they don't fill it, somebody else will. When consumers are willing to spend money, somebody is going to show up and take it. Whether that person that fills the need is just some Joe who's trying to make a buck, or a giant corporation that hires a worker to fill the consumer's need, the job starts with people willing to spend money.
The job creators, i.e. the American consumer, is on a partial strike of sorts. Either we have no job, which means we can't spend money. Or, we're afraid we're going to lose our jobs and are saving money for a rainy day. The savings rate of Americans continues to rise, now up to 5.8%. Don't get me wrong, saving is good when being done to meet a future goal. However, saving out of fear of losing your job means hoarding money and it being used unproductively.
This observation isn't anything new or groundbreaking. The world at one time, did think of employment in the way Boehner does now. However, 80 some years the world discovered it was the opposite, effective demand creates supply. For some reason though, the world's understanding of economics has regressed in thinking and has gone back to believing that supply creates demand.
So why do we let conservatives get away with labeling large corporations and wealthy individuals as "job creators". With high unemployment, messages like "don't raise taxes on 'job creators'" is going to resonate with voters. Conservatives win that argument because they've already framed corporations and wealthy individuals as the job creators. We have to reframe the issue to win. Who you cast as the 'job creator' dictates how you respond in a recession. If you think big business creates jobs, you lower their taxes and let them pillage and plunder the environment and workers so they can create more jobs. If you realize that American consumers are the real job creators, then you'll realize that lowering their wages and making them work longer hours, in more dangerous conditions, you'll make things even worse.
I hate to go all George Lakoff when I normally write about economics and the federal budget, but I have to admit "job creators" is brilliant framing by conservatives. In terms of dispassionate debate, Progressives are responding well to debunking the myth that tax cuts for corps will create jobs. Mark Shields:
That would be as in House Speaker John Boehner's committing to "end the uncertainty plaguing job creators." And how do we do that? Boehner's answer: by "ending the threat of tax hikes." The front-runner among likely candidates for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, stated, after President Obama recently urged ending the Bush-era tax-cuts on those earning over $250,000 a year, that, "The last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on the job creators ..."
Of course, that is exactly what the only Democrat since Franklin Roosevelt to win a second White House term, Bill Clinton, did in 1993. Without a single Republican supporting him in either the House or the Senate, Clinton raised the income tax rate to 39.6 percent for the most prosperous, the top 1.4 percent of Americans. We were told by the leading Republican crepe-hanger of that era, former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, that "(President Clinton's) tax bill is a one-way ticket to a recession."
Also see Jon Purr at CrooksAndLiars:
As Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman and Steve Benen among others noted, the "Plan for America's Job Creators" is simply a repackaging of years of previous proposals and GOP bromides. (As Klein pointed out, the 10 page document "looks like the staffer in charge forgot the assignment was due on Thursday rather than Friday, and so cranked the font up to 24 and began dumping clip art to pad out the plan.") At the center of it is the same plan from the Ryan House budget passed in April to cut the top individual and corporate tax rates to 25%.
If this all sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. When it comes to using the tax code to line the pockets of the wealthiest people in America, House Republicans simply want the next decade to look like the last one. That is, gargantuan tax cuts for America's so-called "job creators"; no jobs for Americans.
In terms of debate, they win. In terms of convincing voters who are working harder than ever to keep their jobs, this isn't going to work. We can't let conservatives get away with framing wealthy individuals and big corporations as the 'job creators'. As Lakoff says, we can't just negate their framing, we have to change the framing.
Demand for goods and services creates jobs, and that demand comes from well payed American laborers. You are the real job creator. I think recasting the job creators combines truth with proper reframing.